New England Patriots: A Week into Free Agency, What Happens Next?
The Pats have made multiple moves to address needs on the roster, but a lot of work needs to be done before the start of next season.
Over a week has passed since the 2019 Free Agency period began, and like many other teams around the league, the New England Patriots have been active. They re-signed Super Bowl hero and cornerback Jason McCourty, as well as punter Ryan Allen.
Left tackle Trent Brown and defensive end Trey Flowers were lured away with monster contracts, earning the Patriots two third-round compensatory picks.
With months to go before the season, but the NFL Draft looming ahead, the Patriots still have work to do with their roster.
With Malcom Brown joining the Saints, and Flowers becoming a part of the Lions, pass-rushers will be hot commodities for New England this offseason. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton is currently a free agent, and if he does not return, that position will certainly be a position to target in the draft, or later in free agency. In an effort to bolster the interior pass-rush, defensive lineman Mike Pennel, a former New York Jet, was signed to the team.
The loss of Flowers was slightly diminished when the Patriots acquired defensive end Michael Bennett in a trade with the Eagles. At 33 years old, Bennett still plays at an elite level and should be one of the best pass-rushers for New England next season.
Wide receiver is another position of interest for the Patriots. They lost Cordarelle Patterson to the Bears on a one-year deal, but his loss is not as crucial as he contributed mostly on special teams. Phillip Dorsett was brought back on a one year “prove it” deal, negating too much loss at the position. Chris Hogan is still a free agent, but is open to returning to the team. If he is lost, another receiver would be a must add for the team.
As wide receiver became a glaring need for the Patriots, the team brought in Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington. Harris is a large-frame possession receiver who can make plays over defensive backs, while Ellington is more of a shifty receiver that could thrive in the quickly paced New England offense. The team will still need to add other pieces, as this receiving core is not ideal for the defending champions.
Tight end Dwayne Allen was cut due to his humongous cap hit. He followed former Patriot defensive coordinator Brian Flores to Miami, where Flores is the head coach. To compensate, Matt LaCosse was signed from the Denver Broncos. LaCosse is a big body tight end who runs clunky routes, but has great hands. With Rob Gronkowski now no longer a piece of the Patriots future, tight end will be another position that will have to be further addressed before the season begins.
Once news broke that teams were willing to pay big bucks for impending free agent Trent Brown, the Patriots knew they would have to start searching for his replacement at left tackle. Coaches and fans alike are praying that Isaiah Wynn, the 23rd overall pick of last year’s NFL Draft, will be able to step in like he was supposed to. Still, Wynn is recovering from the torn Achilles that ended his rookie season prematurely, and might not be recovered in time. The situation became worse when longtime backup tackle LaAdrian Waddle signed with the Buffalo Bills. Look for New England to address the need for a tackle in the first two rounds.
Longtime Patriot Stephen Gostkowski is still a free agent, but the kicker and the team are in talks to keep the Pro Bowler in Foxboro. Given Gostkowski’s talent, and the 13 years he has spent as a member of the Patriots, it’s likely that the kicker will be re-signing with the team. Belichick places a special value on special teams weapons, like punter Ryan Allen, and Gostkowski is one of the best in the league. He will most likely be back.
Coming off of a Super Bowl winning season, there is no reason to panic about the current roster in New England. The team will certainly look different come August, and there is no reason to doubt that with Belichick in charge, they will be geared up for another championship run.